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06 May 2010

The Butcher and the Vegetarian

The Butcher and the Vegetarian

My friend Tea wrote this book. I'm so proud of her.

A few days ago I told you about our friend Lorna Yee's book, The Newlywed Kitchen. (If you have not read the comments yet, please do. People telling stories of cooking with the ones they love have been making me teary for days. Thank you for sharing, everyone.) So you know that we have dear friends who write books. That might make us a little biased when we recommend these books to you.

I'm going to tell you right now: I am beyond biased when it comes to The Butcher and the Vegetarian. Tea is my dear friend, and I watched her struggle and grow through the entire process of writing, editing, and marketing this book. I adore her. And so, of course I recommend this book to you.

If you have read Tea and Cookies, you know that Tara can write like swallows can swoop and fly through the air. She is, in turns, generous and gently prodding us to better actions. Tara really watches the world, hard, with a kind eye. (And lately, with her camera, she creates lyrical images that leave me dreaming.) Sometimes, Tara feels crushed by the sadness of the world, the injustice of it. In those moments, she turns to the garden, to making jam, to sharing the passion of her friends, and to words. In the end, she chooses love.

How could I not adore her?

I've actually known Tea longer than I have known Danny. We connected through our blogs, of course. She had been reading mine, along with many more that inspired her, during a period of her life when she was not feeling well, low in energy and left wondering what was wrong with her. She wrote to me in January of 2006, introducing herself, and we wrote back and forth about blogs and book deals (I was still looking for an agent; Tea had just started her blog), about gluten and loving food, about fennel salad and meyer lemon sea salt, about nephews and nieces and cooking with them. We became instant fast-friend pen pals. When she next came to visit Seattle, I invited her into my home without having met her. After an evening of cooking, eating, and talking, we were friends forever.

(I had just met Danny by the time Tea and I finally met. Poor Tea must have been subjected to more than her fair share of schmoopy swoony talk.)

Since then, we have been friends through agents and book deals, weddings and births, her big move to Seattle, and her book being published. We don't get to spend enough time together anymore. Since we live a ferry ride away from each other, and I have a toddler with a set bedtime and no car when Danny goes to work, my social life has dwindled down to a little puddle. But good friends survive times like these.

Through all of this, we have been talking about food and the politics of it, love and the search for it, people's mystifying behavior and how we choose to love them anyway, memories, expectations, and gardening. Oh, and this business of both of us writing books for a living now, when we began as mere bloggers with no other intention than writing our hearts out and connecting with people who might understand us.

So, as you can see, I'm pretty hopelessly biased about her book.

barbequed pork

My friend Tea is fearless. She would tell you I'm wrong, but I know her. Fearless, after all, doesn't mean being free of fear, but of acknowledging it is there and moving through it anyway.

Tea is fearless because she took on the giant topic of meat and vegetarianism and what might be the best way to eat in this country when she wrote this book. Raised almost primarily as a vegetarian (she and her brother sometimes ate meat at restaurants or friends' houses when they were growing up), she didn't expect to ever cook and eat meat regularly. The period of not feeling well I described earlier led her to doctors and naturopaths who recommended she try eating meat. And so she did. Thus began an epic journey, one that still continues — the journey to find her own, personal answer of how she wants to be in the world.

I'm not going to say much about what Tea ponders or discovers in The Butcher and the Vegetarian, because I want you to read it. This is a thoughtful, dynamic, laid-bare honest book. There are funny scenes and reveling-in-sensory pleasure scenes. There are trips to ranches, meetings with butchers, talks with farmers, and even a slaughter that Tea witnessed. You will find this book indelible.

How we eat meat is something we all deal with in this country, or at least we should. As you might know, I was a vegetarian for a full ten years, then started eating meat again about 10 years ago. It's a personal decision that we each have to make. Danny and I buy most of our meat from local farmers and ranchers, or butchers that carry local meats.

However, I've read some sanctimonious people who insist that no one should buy meat at a grocery store again. That's fine, if you have the money for a hamburger that costs $10. Danny and I, just today, bought some flank steak from a small local ranch, all grass fed. A pound and a half cost $16. Ouch. We put a good chunk of our money into food. Sometimes, we eat fewer meals with meat in them so we can afford the great cuts we love. Sometimes.

But many, many people in this country don't have that option. This is clearly a class issue. And I love supporting small mom and pop restaurants run by people who have come to this country with a dream and who make a great bowl of beef noodle soup. Do we think those small restaurants are buying their beef from the same local ranchers where we bought our flank steak?

You see, Tea is braver than I am. Just writing this, I'm starting to cringe, because I know I will be blazed by angry letters and nasty comments from people who are irate that we eat meat, that we write a blog all about pork (which we love doing), that too few of our recipes are vegetarian. And I'm almost hesitating writing this, because it would just be easier to write about a baked good again.

Tea wrote an entire book about this conundrum, this drumming argument that is starting to run through our culture. To eat meat or not? That is the question.

We very much hope that you read The Butcher and the Vegetarian, not because it's our friend who wrote it, but because you will be thinking about your food choices afterward in a different fashion. I really do not believe there is one right way. What we need is the conversation, conducted with kindness. This book will start you talking.

Rodale Press is giving away three copies of The Butcher and the Vegetarian here. If you'd like a copy of the book, please leave a measured, thoughtful comment here about how you are part of this conversation.

barbequed pork with green-juice sauce, millet, asparagus, and a lovely salad



Green-Juice Simmered Millet and Green Reduction Sauce

Tara introduced me to this green juice, which seems to be a favorite of the raw food world. We're not raw foodists, but I love this juice. It's light and refreshing, with just a touch of sweetness from the tart apples. Lately, we've been pushing these vegetables through our juicer every morning, then drinking the juice when I return from my run. I also love it as the liquid base of smoothies with frozen blueberries and yogurt, plus a touch a of honey. Drink this and you feel healthy immediately.

Of course, you do have to own a juicer to make this juice. We are lucky enough to have this Breville juicer in our kitchen. It was a wedding present, and it has been in use in our kitchen most days since then. Worth the investment. However, there are less expensive juicers on the market that still work well. You might want to look at thrift stores too, since many people receive gifts like this and find they never use it. If you love to cook, and you find a juicer, you will probably keep it in your kitchen forever.

The other day, we decided to cook millet in the green juice, instead of stock or water. I loved it. The millet didn't turn green or taste of kale. Instead, it had a faint vegetal sweetness behind the grain taste. It's a good way to get your vegetables. Since Danny just did a video on making reduction sauces, we thought we'd toss one on here too.

Here he'd like me to tell you that he didn't like the color of it. Too sludge-like. Green juices, when heated, turn a little brown. I didn't care. It had a sweetness intensified by the reduction, yet an earthiness that remembered the vegetables. We put it on top of some barbecued pork loin, which made those bites disappear pretty quickly. But I'd probably put it on top of the millet next time. Good grain + a bit of sweetness + salt + a little fat from the butter = craveable.

We'll definitely be making this again.

4 green apples
8 stalks celery
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 bunch Lacinato kale, stems and all

1 cup millet
2 1/4 cups green juice
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon each kosher salt and cracked black pepper

2 cups green juice (or whatever is remaining)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Making the juice. Put everything into a juicer, following your manufacturer's instructions.

Cooking the millet. Set a large saucepan over high heat. Pour in the green juice, butter and salt and pepper. Bring the liquids to a boil and add the millet, then turn down the heat to medium-low. Cook the millet until the grain is tender to the bite, about 10 to 15 minutes. (If the liquid evaporates before the millet has finished cooking, add some juice.) Strain the millet and set it aside, reserving any juice for the sauce.

Making the reduction sauce. Put the remaining juice into a small saucepan. Turn the heat on high and bring the sauce to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low and simmer the sauce until it has reduced by 1/2 its volume and starts to thicken a bit. Drop in the butter and whisk vigorously until the has been incorporated fully into the sauce (this is called emulsifying). Remove from heat.

Serve the millet with the sauce dribble on top. What sits on the rest of your plate is up to you.

122 Comments:

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous glutenfreefoodie said...

I am very interested in reading "The Butcher and the Vegetarian" for a couple of very good reasons:
a) I'm gluten free due to Celiac Disease and have just finished watching the documentary "Food Inc" - now there's some food for thought!

b) My husband and I have been wheat farmers and raising cattle for over 30 years and feel very committed to the lifestyle of the "family farm".

My husband loves his "meat & potatoes" but I'm more comfortable with fruits & veggies - so the title of the book somehow rings familiar...

I'll definitely be looking out for it in our local bookstore!

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Hrönnsa said...

This book seems to be just what I need right now. I was a vegetarian for 8 years but then started to eat chicken and fish again. I can´t find organic chicken where I live so I´m off chicken for the moment but I´d love to read more on all sides. I don´t cook meat simply cause I don´t know how and don´t mind really. I make green juice every day, my favorite is cucumber, celery, lime (peeled), carrots and a bit of ginger. You know if you are heating your juice you are distroying your enzimes in the juice so its not a good thing to do that. :) Great post!

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Guin said...

This is an issue I struggle with myself. It was cheaper when I lived in Indiana and actually was friends with farmers. Now, getting beef from farmers I know is very scarce. I'm too broke to buy it regular at the store. But I try. I think trying is the important thing. I was vegan for years and got too sick. But I kept the consciousness of what goes in my body even though I now eat animal products.

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger amy said...

what we choose to eat or not to eat is an intimate decision. I choose to eat a vegetarian diet but respect that this isn't everyone's choice. My motto is: what you put in your mouth isn't my business. Usually it will be in response to someone apologizing for eating meat in front of me and that always feels odd--like if you're going to eat it, say thanks to the animal and for goodness sakes, enjoy.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger LenaBug said...

I have considered becoming a vegetarian several times in the last few years, but every time I put action to my thoughts something would happen to our housing or our jobs or our health that would put the whole plan on hold. Despite this, I have discovered that when I eat a primarliy plant-based diet, with the occasional lean chicken or white fish thrown in, I feel much healthier and more energetic! I also tend to eat a lot less when I eat more veggies and fruit than other foods. Lately, my diet has not been ideal, as we live with elderly relatives who are very set in their ways, dietarily, but I have added a cup of plain yogurt sweetened with raw honey to my daily menu, and I have experienced a marked increase in digestive comfort, as well as increased energy. We eat a lot of pork in this household, which concerns me, given the controversies surrounding pork production. I am excited about Tara's book, because I really do want to eat healthy, and your words concerning her really intrigue me! :)

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger Miriam said...

I'm a philosophy PhD student who's very interested in the ethics of eating meat. I've taught a number of courses that covered this issue and have found the process of struggling through this topic with students to be one that has kept me thinking long past the end of the semester. I certainly have no answers to the question of whether we ought to all become vegetarians- but here is something I tell people when they ask me about my views on this subject: the hard question is: are we morally obligated to refrain from eating meat? People tend to go one of two ways on this question: either they think that there's nothing wrong with eating meat, or that eating meat is a horrible horrible thing. But until we've really figured this questions out - why not acknowledge that there is at least SOMETHING ethically problematic about eating meat, and take this into account when making food choices, even if we don't think we can give meat up entirely?
This idea became very clear to me when I moved to Thailand for a year. In Thailand, there's a week or a month (I can't remember which) where almost the entire country eats a vegetarian diet. If you ask them why, they'll say: "think of how many thousands of animals we save by all refraining from meat for just one week!" In other words, they acknowledge that there's something good about vegetarianism, but since they're not prepared to adopt that lifestyle all year long, they do it for a week. Personally, I think that is absolutely lovely. So if many of us are not willing to give up meat entirely (I'm certainly not) - perhaps we should just consider avoiding unnecessary meat, or just reducing the amount of meat that we consume? If you have a choice between tofu and chicken in your stir-fry - and it really wouldn't make a huge difference in flavor, maybe get the tofu. Or maybe, like the Thais, pick a day, or week or month where you eat only vegetarian food. If the lives of animals are valuable, reducing the suffering for any individual life is valuable too.
One last thought - many people don't realize that several of the arguments that support vegetarianism, support veganism as well. So if you want to reduce the amount of suffering caused to animals, you might also consider reducing your intake of eggs and dairy - or at very least, those eggs and dairy products that are produced in factory farms.
In short - let's just do what we can, and not be tempted to think: "well, because there's no way I'm going to be a vegan tomorrow, I might as well just eat whatever I feel like." That's like saying "well, because there's no way I'm going to exercise the amount recommended by my doctor, I'm just not going to exercise at all." This is giving up. And just because we're not moral saints, doesn't mean we should give up.

 
At 1:44 PM, Blogger Becky said...

I have always eaten meat, but never cooked it much. Partly because I didn't know how and was intimidated by trying to cook it. Partly because my husband was vegetarian (raised mostly veg as an Indian immigrant, he grew up always eating veggie food deliciously home-cooked by his mom).

I was content not cooking meats but as I have become a better cook and more interested in cooking, I have also become more interested in cooking good meats. And my husband eats meat now, too. My first real homemade meat dinner was Thomas Keller's roast chicken using a locally grown chicken. We belong to a farm share and at this point, my husband and I generally just eat the meat we get from our weekly share.

We are still waiting to introduce our 16 month old daughter to meat, but I know when we do, it will be our good meats.

It can feel like a difficult balance but, as with most things in life, we just keep doing our best and so far things just keep getting better.

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger muffinmoon said...

Here in the UK we have great champions of good quality meat in Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I was vegetarian for 22 years until pregnancy made me want roast chicken and IMMEDIATELY. I now eat some meat and fish but try to have meat free days to make it all more affordable.
My three year old is essentially a cave man and chews on the bones of anything we buy. He loves meat so much. So we buy it and the best we can afford.
It is too easy to tell others what they should be doing with their money and how they should be spending it. We all do what we can and do better when we are able to.
For some people animal welfare is not an issue. For me it is THE issue but I also don't beat myself up over my son eating a sausage in a cafe.
Balance and moderate changes from all of us would make a huge difference.
I have seen chickens on sale for £2.00 in supermarkets. Someone is being treated unfairly there and it's not just the chicken.
The three books should be going to catering colleges for young people who are beginning their lives and careers with food. I will buy mine myself. That seems more fitting to the spirit of the whole issue.

 
At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I definitely want to read this book. My husband and I were vegetarian for many many years. About 8 years ago, we started eating meat. We were both having health problems and now we both feel better eating meat. But I hate the idea of eating meat (I'm still a vegetarian at heart).

nina
nina[at]sylvaticasolutions[dot]com

 
At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Ambre said...

What a great story of friendship between you two! We just went grain free three weeks ago and while we were never fully vegetarian this switch has landed us squarely back into the land of meat eating! We currently buy local humanely grown bison and I would love to read about Tea's journey and discoveries. Thanks for the opportunity to do that!

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger mnms said...

I'll definitely be looking for this book--it sounds like a great read.

We eat meat in our house. I try to buy organic when possible. I guess the biggest thing I think about is whether the food I serve my kids is gluten free and whether they are getting the right mix of vitamins and nutrients from the food we eat. I've learned so much from your blog--thank you! My daughter, who is celiac, now has some great bread options. Trying not to gush here, but I haven't posted before and just wanted to thank you for the recipes you post and the links I've gotten from your site.

 
At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Nataliect said...

I'd love a copy of this book!
I grew up on a small farm, where I always knew the name (and the entire history) of the meat I was eating. And I grew up in Australia, where commercially available meat isn't perfect, but it has different issues than those of industrial meat in the US.
I rarely cook meat for myself, but I do eat meat because I like it, because in my life it's healthy, because as a celiac I know how hard it is to cut a swath of food out of my diet - I am not going to cut it down further.
But I am very interested in learning more about the vegetarian- vs omnivirous discussion, I like to hear where other people stand. Especially without the vitriol and evangelicalism with some people who choose vegetarianism for ethical reasons.
Thanks for this giveaway!
Natalie

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger Gaile said...

I think this is a conversation well worth having. Anything, in my opinion, that gets us thinking more about how our food is raised, who grows it, and how both the food and the growers/workers/harvested are treated, is a worthwhile endeavor. I was a vegetarian/pescatarian for almost 10 years, until the stress of school found me developing Reynauds syndrome. On the advice of a trusted acupuncturist, i started eating red meat again, reluctantly. Those symptoms, and others, cleared up almost immediately. When we lived in Bellingham, we were lucky to have sources for good local, sustainbly raised meats, and found ways to make them last for a few meals instead of one big meaty one. Strangely enough that has proven harder, but not impossible, in Portland, especially in the fish department. It makes me miss our local fishmonger who travelled to Seattle thrice weekly and who I could call and ask "what's fresh and tasty today? Set some aside for me, I'll be there in 20 minutes".

Thanks for the book recommendation!

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger ♥¸¸.•*¨Skip to Malou¨¨*•.¸¸♥¸ said...

i am not a vegetarian... and i don't think i'll ever be one. I am one who loves to eat pork and who writes about it all the time...

i admire people like you guys who are into eating healthy, buying in farmer's market and who's into that "lifestyle"

but yeah, i would love to read the book though because of her writing... vegetarian or not, i will read the book.

btw, happy mother's day!

xoxo,
malou

 
At 3:48 PM, Blogger Suzanna H. said...

Our family would be characterized as those who really can't afford to eat local grass-fed meat. We compromise by eating local free-range eggs, bone broths made from that local grass fed beef (they sell big broth bones for $1 each!), and eating good meat about 2-3 times a month. Having two small children has made me incredibly diligent in what I cook and what I am putting into little mouths. My husband is the only one that still needs to get on board. He loves the theory, but is addicted to chocolate covered granola bars and sugary cereal (yucky!). I think a book like this would help him. (not that I won't read it too...)

 
At 4:01 PM, Anonymous beyond said...

we don't eat a lot of meat at our house, as my husband eats only fish and seafood. the prices are a problem. when i buy meat to cook for myself or friends i buy organic and local when it's on special. other than that i will just go with no-hormones or grass fed whenever possible. interesting topic and interesting comments.

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger Martha said...

Shauna, you raise some very good points; things that have been rattling around in my head but I haven't been able to put into words. I feel quite divided about the issue of meat eating, and then whether it should be locally and humanely raised meat vs. the grocery store meat. Then there's Price. Availability. Purity. Health benefits/health hazards. Whom do we believe? Should we believe one viewpoint, even if it isn't in our best interests (financially or health-wise)? I would be very interested to see what your friend has to say about the subject.

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger NotBlogginGirl said...

I'd love to read this book. As the granddaughter of ranchers, I grew up around meat eaters (the highlight of my ninth birthday was being allowed to choose the chicken we were going to eat for dinner - and oh how disappointed I was to be forbidden to help with the transition from farmyard to kitchen).

Five years ago, I moved to the UK and, having read about animal welfare standards, flirted with the idea of eating organic, ethical meat but backed down every time I looked at the price. I also flirted with vegetarianism until my doctor put her foot down and forbid it. In the end, the key to switching was the flavor - ethical meat tastes so much better than supermarket meat that I can't bear to go back. Needless to say, I can no longer afford to eat meat daily, so I settle for eating meat twice (sometimes three times, if I can stretch this week's cut that far) a week; the rest of the week, I eat eggs, cheese, nuts, and lentils.

Eating veggie is definitely more effortful - making sure that my diet remains balanced and nutritious given the large swathes of ingredients that are off limits (try colitis AND celiac disease!) - but I'm happier and healthier and, most importantly, my food is tastier.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger vanessa said...

Although I own and have already read the book, I felt compelled to comment on how much it changed my life - specifically, in regards to the massive weight it took off my shoulders!

I was a passionate vegan for about 8 years, until about 6 months ago when a series of (quite personal) events and the influence of a mentor led me back to "the dark side." It started with a bit of dairy, then fish, and now meat (eggs are only excluded because I'm allergic). Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd go back to eating meat, never mind LIKE it and crave it! Despite only consuming the most humanely-raised animal products I could find, the guilt was getting to me. Reading Tea's book really helped to put my mind at ease, if only because I could relate and live vicariously through the chances she took and choices she made, like if she just decided to take the plunge and eat meat - and do so unapologetically - I had nothing to be afraid (or ashamed) of.

Through reading Tea's book, along with my own further research, I now feel that animal flesh, when prepared and eaten with conscience and reverance, can be a perfectly sound food. And, perhaps more importantly, if my body feels good with a bit of meat in it, so be it.

Not everyone is "meant" to be a vegetarian, and that's okay. I think the whole key is education: know where your meat (and any food, for that matter) is coming from, and decide from there what's for dinner.

Thanks for this post!

 
At 5:31 PM, Blogger liz said...

It's an issue I go back and forth on.. my grandparents were farmers and I think that free range / local meat isn't a bad thing.. I've gone through long meat-free sprees at home, which works out great. I've introduced my fiance to beans, spinach and all kinds of things that he didn't eat, so I'm trying.

 
At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Thank you for this post.

Thank you, too, for the opportunity to win this book! I would looooove to read it.

This topic seems to be on my mind daily----we are meat eaters, but our family food budget needs to be kept in check. It is challenging to combine budgeting with healthy (preferably local, grass fed, etc.) meat eating. I know that many people achieve this, but it's something I struggle with daily.

Thank you, and Happy Mother's Day!
Elizabeth
elizabethsgems@gmail.com

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger Lyrically speaking said...

Thanks for sharing this post with us and about your friend's book, will definitely check it out

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger Deanna said...

Just last night I was reading a raw food cookbook (that always seems like an oxymoron to me, but that's another discussion). The interesting part was that in the intro, the author states that no indigenous culture has ever subsisted on an exclusively vegan diet. I've been tending more and more towards the vegan diet these days - I can't eat dairy and I don't like beef and pork, so there was really only seafood (which tends to be not so fresh and delicious here in the midwest) and eggs and poultry. I've yet to come down solidly on either side of the argument, and I feel like there's always more to learn. I do know that I'm more comfortable eating the eggs from the chickens kept in my friend's backyard than the ones kept at factory farms. And, I prefer buying the local organic chicken when I can. But, frankly, we can't afford to eat that way all the time, so we slide back to vegetarian options more often than not.

 
At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am married to a hunter in northern Canda. I was vegetarian, and close to vegan for almost two years before my first child and again before my second. I could not maintain the diet during my pregnancies though.

For me, now, I do accept the food chain. I know my husband is humane in his hunting. In my opinion his hunting is much more humane than large farming practices. So we eat wild game, and local, small farmer bought farmed animals. Do I still feel guilty on occasion?... I do.

If I had to kill my own meat could I do it? NO! Definately I would go back to be a vegetarian. Did I love my beef steak for mother's day? YES!

Meat waste is absolutely unacceptable in our household. We often discuss where our meal comes from and the impact it has on the environment and the animal on our plate. Sometimes over the top in my husbands opinion. But important to me.

I am interested in other people's decisions around meat and vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. I would be interested in this book, and will be putting it on my reading list.

Thanks!
Rhonda

 
At 6:52 PM, Blogger Cegoodner said...

This is a topic that we have been discussing a great deal around our house. We have made the switch almost exclusively to organic/local meat and have tried to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our weekly food menu. I do struggle sometimes with the cost and probably once or twice a month have "grocery store" meat because that is what fits in the budget - it always causes me much guilt though!! I would love to read this book . . . thank you for bringing it to my attention.

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger Elisabeth said...

I grew up on a small farm in the country and my family raised all our own poultry and bought our meat from fellow small time farmers that we knew. I never realized how lucky I was to have such clean and healthy meat at my disposal.

Since I got married I now live in the city without a car and can only buy what's available at the supermarket... I can't wait till I don't have to do that any more!

 
At 7:17 PM, Blogger Ness said...

I think you made the best point-It is all about finding yourself and getting to the place where you feel good about it. I was a vegetarian, and then a vegan, back to vegetarian, and now I eat meat. I still struggle with my choices, I adore animals. But I was also at my lowest point in the health area when I wasn't eating meat. Now that I am gluten free I focus mostly on whole foods. My number one goal is to eat whole, single ingredient foods (chicken, apple, broccoli). In a perfect world I would eat all local, all organic, and nothing processed. I do my best to accomplish this - but I value my sanity too much to push for perfection. The book sounds like it would be a good read for someone in my position.

 
At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Carol SB said...

"I really do not believe there is one right way. What we need is the conversation, conducted with kindness."
I think I'll get that printed on a t-shirt. Doesn't it apply to so many things?
I love to come here and hang about in the 'comments' as well as the blog. Shauna, you invisibly create a great balance: the posts here are unfailingly civil, well thought-out... and diverse. Tell me that takes no effort.
Omnivores and herbivores of all persuasions can be strident. How wonderful it is to participate in a thoughtful conversation about food choices.
Personally (and I agree with you, Amy: it is personal), I'm an omnivore. Yes, I've participated in chicken butchering: nothing bigger, although we do eat all forms of farm animals. Mostly from (luckily for us) farmers we know: some from the burger joint down the road, and you KNOW that beef's been chosen for exclusively economic reasons.
But then all eating should be thoughtful. I'd like to know more about where my chick peas come from... and should I buy this coconut milk from Thailand?

 
At 7:46 PM, Anonymous tamara said...

I'm a long-time vegetarian (since age 11, so twelve years now). I cant really imagine eating meat again, personally, but I know that a vegetarian diet is not for everyone, and that even those who would prefer not to eat meat may not feel well doing so. I try never to preach to others about my personal choice not to eat meat; I think ultimately what we choose to eat is up to us. I do think, from an environmental (and economic!) stand point, we would all be wise to at least cut down the amount of meat we eat, and similarly to eat meat from animals that are raised in a compassionate environment where they aren't pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and fed unnatural diets.

My parents have been healthy eaters for probably the last eight to ten years after being overweight and inattentive about what they ate for all of my life up until that point. Recently, they started growing some of their own food and have switched to a diet based as much as possible on seasonal foods, natural meats, and organic vegetables. I'm really proud of them. Today on the phone they told me that they aren't eating much meat at all anymore.

 
At 7:50 PM, Blogger mrscamacho said...

My husband and I are "recovering vegetarians." We learned, while living in the midwest, that we really couldn't take part fully in community if we weren't willing to eat meat. If people invited us over for a meal, it was too rude to refuse what they'd made us! So we slowly began eating meat, after having been raised strict vegetarians (for religious reasons; a religion we have since parted ways with).

I still hardly ever cook it at home, and we are very picky about where our meat - where all our food - comes from. We are fortunate now to live in Central Oregon, where grass-fed beef, goat, lamb, and poultry is readily available.

I feel that there is a spiritual connection to what we eat and how it lived and died. I can taste a difference between the cheap, factory farmed stuff and the good quality, humanely handled meat I buy at the farmers' market.

I'm looking forward to reading this book!

 
At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Laurel said...

I can't wait to get my hands on this book -- it sounds like just what I have been looking for to read! I, too, recently saw Food, Inc. and began to ponder things I'd never even thought to wonder about. Now I'm trying to figure out whether to go vegetarian or just change the meat I buy (there are some options around where I live for grass-fed beef, at least). My husband is very much a meat lover. :(
mycatisgftoo at yahoo dot com

 
At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idea for a book, my partner and I were both vegetarian/vegan for years. When we started eating meat again supermarket meat was just unthinkable. So we searched for the local butcher who wanted to talk about where they source their meat. Butchers are not the enemy, in my book. They're often passionate about good quality produce and sustainable farming practices. You just need to scratch the surface. And the advent of farmers markets means that we now know exactly where our beef comes from, and we order directly from the family farm. It's expensive but like others, you choose your cuts carefully and waste nothing. I'd also encourage people to eat a wide variety of meat including rabbit, goat, kangaroo. (We do live in Australia, so the kangaroo is a little easier for us.) It's truly lovely to expand your palate in new directions. Last week I ate braised rabbit with cream, sage and parpadelle in a restaruant and I'm going to make a gluten free version for home. Any hints on braising rabbit are welcome...

 
At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Filaree said...

Like another reader said, we are also lucky to live in Central Oregon where farm-raised, grass-fed meat is available. The problem like you said is that it is expensive and it's not for every budget. The other issue that comes up for me is that it's often times uncomfortable asking people the deeper questions like "how do you kill your animals?" It feels too personal some how and yet it's food they are selling for us to put in our bodies so it has to be asked. I often wonder if I'm asking the right questions because it no longer suffices to only ask if it's organic. I'd love to read this book and see how she feels on this subject. I know I feel better eating meat and I want to buy the best meat I can but don't always know what that means.

 
At 8:32 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

When I was just starting junior high, the energy crisis of the 70s coupled with family troubles meant that we didn't eat meat much, but I didn't really think about it. Then I read Francis Moore Lappe's book, and gave up all meat, except when I didn't - I loved egg rolls, and hot-and-sour soup, so when I ate Chinese I ignored the bits of pork and the chicken broth. But for the most part, I didn't eat meat for 23 years.

Then I broke my leg in two places, and while recovering in the dairy fields of central Washington, started craving meat, inexplicably. I started eating meat again, but still tried to keep to my philosophy of "if you can't kill it yourself, you probably shouldn't be eating it." Awareness of where the food came from. Gratitude towards the lives that were ended so that mine could (deliciously) continue.

Over the next few years, I watched a steer being slaughtered. I killed a chicken myself and felt its life stop with a shocking suddenness in my hands. I worked on an organic free-range egg farm and renewed my commitment to sustainable farming and mindful eating.

Now, I eat meat. I buy from local producers and (aside from my enduring love of Chinese food, dim sum particularly) do my best to only go to restaurants that source locally. Here in Portland, Oregon, I'm lucky that those places are a dime a dozen.

So I don't particularly *need* this book, though I'd love to read it and pass it on. The choice to eat/not eat meat is an intensely personal as well as planetary one, and maybe just getting people to think about what they eat is the best first step. I'll continue to spread my low-key but heartfelt campaign of recognition and respect for those beings we coexist with and consume.

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger Ellemay said...

The Butcher and the Vegetarian sounds interesting. I am always curious about why people decide to stop eating meat and also why people do. Personally I like steak. It's delicious. I also love a good vegie dish too.

If there are extra points for enthusiasm?!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger annie said...

I actually have a nervous flutter in my heart reading your post. i too struggle with talking about this topic. i chose to start eating meat again and i have zero qualms around this choice, but it can stir controversy. i work with families in crisis and they spend $3 on dinner many nights. want to know what you get? i'm sure you know. i'm interested in what she has to say! thanks for writing this!

 
At 10:06 PM, Blogger Brianne said...

I would love to read Tea's book. I've been reading her blog for some time and appreciate her enthusiasm for living and eating well. I just finished reading Pollan's In Defense of Food and found myself wanting to know more about the specific choices I could make rather than the general politics of food choices. I'm not a vegetarian, but I try to eat that way a couple days a week.

 
At 11:14 PM, Blogger Christina said...

This looks like such a fun book. I was a vegan for several years in college. I thought at the time that it was the healthiest way I could eat. After I was married, and pregnant with our first, I craved red meat so bad. It made me throw up, but I didin't care. I think my body was trying to tell me that it needed something that was missing. I've eaten meat ever since. But we still cook vegetarian meals. My friends and I are now discussing how to buy grass fed meat that is raised locally without antibiotics at a price that we can live with. We're hoping that if we band together and buy regularly, we may have a bit more buying power.

 
At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Shvetha said...

I have a question which I swear arises out of curiosity- how is it okay to describe animals being raised for meat as 'humanely raised and slaughtered'? How can death, when not natural, be humane? I know this is stretching the thought to an extreme, but indulge me a moment- if the world's cannibals put forth the same logic to eating their fellow humans, would we give that our approval?

I'd like to think that people who eat meat do so for clearly defined reasons- they love the taste, they've been eating meat all their lives, they need meat to live a healthy life. When someone says they do have second thoughts about eating meat but do so anyway because the animals have been treated well, it makes me wonder why they would delude themselves. Isn't it easier to admit to loving your (meat in your) food?

 
At 12:31 AM, Blogger Susan said...

It's interesting, because I don't really think about where my meat comes from. I think more in terms of how many times a week I'm eating it, variety of protein sources, and whether or not I'm getting enough iron, but I'm sort of neutral on how the meat was "raised". I would go as far to say that it's not really on my radar...there are just so many other food-issues to consider (eating healthy and nutritiously)that as long as the meat is in my diet a reasonable amount of times a week, that's where my thoughts on it end. I know that how the meat is raised is a part of eating nutritiously, but that's just one step beyond right now.
The book sounds really interesting, by the way, and any book that makes you think and reconsider your day to day actions is wonderful.

 
At 1:39 AM, Blogger CatherineMarie said...

I grew up in Egypt, where we'd have the butcher come to our house with the meat and cut it for us into what we wanted. I have vivid memories of my American grandmother visiting us, and saying 'wow, now I know why my aunts always wanted to serve veal'. The meat that I had growing up was amazing. We had stewing chicken, beef, veal.. (no pork, for obvious reasons)

I buy local lamb and veal at the farmer's market, and am so happy that I have the chance to. Its like the stuff I grew up with.

I have no problems with vegetarianism, and I don't eat a lot of meat, but I do eat some, and try to make sure that it is, as much as possible, local, grass-fed, organic. We have so many toxins in our environment now, that we can at least control where some of them slip in.

i do miss Paris... They had butchers with fresh meat, chicken, etc. All kinds of different chickens, from stewing to Cornish Game Hens.... but even in the supermarket, you could buy a portion size of lamb chops....

 
At 2:02 AM, Blogger Marti said...

Great post and great book! I've been vegetarian since before birth, in the sense that my parents were both vegetarian when I was born. I have never considered eating meat, mainly because I don't seem to need it and obviously don't miss it because I've never tried. However, that's me and I definitely don't try to convince people of my beliefs or eating habits. My partner loves meat and living in Central Italy vegetarianism is not that common, but I seem to get by just fine with all the other foods on offer here:) It's definitely a very interesting debate and something worth thinking about! P.s. I agree with "glutenfreefoodie", Food Inc. is well worth watching!

 
At 2:32 AM, Blogger mamafrog said...

As a person who grew up in a beef based state it's an issue I never thought about. Everyone ate meat in my family and I was fortunate to have relatives who were excellent cooks. It's only as I get into my late 50's now that I don't eat it as much. I don't necessarily want to be a vegetarian--but I feel better when I limit myself to more plant items and less meat. Though the men I cook for do seem to need more as they age. This might be attributed to the fact that I have tried for years to take extra B vitamins to make up for a woman's natural loss of this essential vitamin.

 
At 4:12 AM, Blogger Kate said...

The book sounds lovely - I'll have to check it out. Like you, I normally avoid this topic as well, as things can get ugly so fast when discussing it.

Fifteen years ago I almost died from salmonella poisoning (I got it twice in one month). As I was laying on my bathroom floor unable to move, barely able to speak, and with no help in sight, I promised myself if I made it through I would never touch another piece of meat as long as I lived. So no meat or fish or broth or eggs for me and honestly, I've never been tempted since that day even though I'll make things for others.

So I didn't become a vegetarian for ethical reasons, my awareness of that came later. I don't eat dairy because I'm allergic. I really dislike tofu because of the texture. It's strange ground to stand on and I'd say I'm probably a nightmare to cook for.

As for the discussion at hand, I feel that the decision is a very personal one. If you're going to eat meat, please thank the animal and make sure nothing goes to waste. However, I do wish that people wouldn't say "I could never stop eating..." Whether they fill in the blanks with meat or gluten or dairy, I believe they could if the circumstances were right - I'm living proof of that.

 
At 4:28 AM, Anonymous jandrews said...

My husband and I never thought about our food until we had a daughter allergic to beefm dairy and pineapple. Then a year ago, I decided not to eat gluten anymore due to many physical problems that all went away when I didn't have it. My daughter also can't seem to handle any processed meat or meat with hormones in it, so we are careful to buy the best, but we can't always have that. It is a constant battle between health, cravings and cost. Thank you so much for your blog. Because of you, we can eat chocolate cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies again. Yummy!

 
At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Jennie said...

As you said it is about getting the conversation started...in a polite manner.

Like you and Danny, a big portion of our budget goes towards food.
I'm a greenmarket shopper (what we call our farmers' markets here in NYC). I actually avoid meat because I know it is not the same quality as what I buy from the local cattle farmer.

My friends know my outlook, though, and while I try not to preach, I do love inviting them over to see the difference in taste and also introduce them to truly delicious meat-free dishes. Often, there is a request for a recipe before the night is through.

That said, I really do hope by creating a conversation, it will lead to subsidies for the smaller family farms, raising animals as they should be...grazing on grass and not in a feedlot or factory.

 
At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I was a vegetarian for many years until health issues led to eating meat again. It felt so good I can't tell you! I felt like I had been hungry for 17 years and I then felt pleasantly full. I was surprised and conflicted, I think every thinking person would be but now I am thoroughly committed to my choice and what my body is telling me - I just don't digest a lot grains and legumes very well. And so I had to adjust my thinking (and what a lot of popular professional opinions were on the 'Right Way" to eat for Everyone.)
I'd like to read Tara's take on it.

 
At 6:01 AM, Blogger Lorrie said...

We farm corn, wheat and soybeans and we used to raise market hogs. I believe part of the problem with meat IS that people don't know how to prepare it. I found that I was avoiding certain cuts when having a beef animal or pig butchered. I started doing some research on the Canadian Beef and Ontario Pork websites. They tend to go through cooking lessons that include include certain cuts and how to cook them. My "roast" cooking has improved and my family has discovered we "love" braising ribs, which are an inexpensive cut. We still love our fancier cuts but I have definitely stretched our dollars further by checking out the poorer cuts and researching how to prepare them. AT the same time though, I still prepare vegetarian meals. And when I serve meat, I reduce the serving size and bump up the vegetables!

 
At 6:06 AM, Blogger Linda said...

I've never even thought about not eating meat. I've tried to eat less though. I'm always interested in learning more about food ever since I read Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. I love books like that.

 
At 6:09 AM, Anonymous Lindsay said...

I was raised as a vegetarian for spiritual reasons... and then we moved to Wyoming-steak-and-potatoes rancher country. I have run the gamut from vegan to raw to all manner of meat... and am coming back to being "more vegetarian" these days. Yet knowing I tend to need the extra high-density protein, I'm stuck again. Round and round we go. I don't like the idea of killing an animal for my food, but I appreciate the life cycle and the roll we all have on this planet to nourish each other. I would really really like to read this book. It might be just the thing I need.

 
At 6:13 AM, Blogger The Raven said...

I just finished The Butcher and the Vegetarian this morning. I was quite surprised to find it reviewed here immediately afterward!

Like you, I am a former vegetarian who sources the meat she cooks at home from local farms. I tend to eat vegan when I'm out--but when someone serves me meat in their home, I don't ask. When I go to the Vietnamese soup place, I get the beef pho. I figure getting tripe or other meats that often do not get eaten in America might help make up for what I'm sure is CAFO meat. But supporting the family that owns the restaurant and experiencing the cultural connections just seems too big a part of my life to pass up.

I just read The Vegetarian Myth. Brilliant, inflammatory, fascinating, (inflammatory). It recasts the ethical diet question completely.

BTW--your book and Tea's convinced me to try eating gluten-free for at least a month or so. I don't have the classic symptoms of celiacs at all, but I have a couple of autoimmune disorders that seem to be intensifying. I decided to try yesterday morning, after eating the croissants my son brought me as breakfast in bed for mother's day....

 
At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Stephanie said...

This book sounds fabulous! I've been a vegetarian for, wow, 12 years now (with occasional stretches where I eat a bit of fish). Our house is vegetarian, but hubby is not. Raising the kids mostly veg--at age 4 they've each gone through a meat-loving stage, so I guess that's when their bodies need it?

I'm now struggling with a "deal" offered by my husband: He'll go vegetarian for a year if he can get a motorcycle after. Hmm...

 
At 6:43 AM, Blogger Evelyn said...

Although I know for myself that I feel much better when I include animal protein in my diet, I have watched several friends and family struggle through this question up close. Some of them lost weight going on a vegan diet and now believe they should eat that way forever. One woman's son convinced her to switch to vegan and after several years he ended up with giant open sores all over his face. I tried to convince them for a while that he ought to look for some locally sourced eggs or meats, that there were some options that they could feel morally good about and not sacrifice his health. In the end he did end up going back to eating meat and his skin glows now and he appears to have sooo much more energy. We do incorporate vegetarian meals into our weekly roundup of meals and do incorporate a lot of green leafy and sweet vegetables, but all out vegetarian would never work for me. The book sounds very intriguing and I think I would really enjoy it! Plus there is a local book club that may be interested in reading it too :)

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger Jeanette said...

I enjoyed reading the comments almost as much as the great post. I've been a vegetarian for over two years now. It gets tricky being a celiac and a vegetarian at time. My husband gave up pork completely. He eats chicken and a hamburger about twice a month - away from our home. My daughter is not a vegetarian. I know this is a choice for me and me alone. I can't imagine eating meat again so I'm quite curious to read the thoughts and understand the journey of someone who has "gone back".

 
At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Ina said...

Hi Shauna...wow, I soo understand where you are coming from regarding store bought or local farmed meat. Have just written a post, on the very subject (not posted yet)as I have discovered I get sick each time I eat regular chicken and pork...but do not if it is hormone, antibiotic free! I too have been hesitant in posting the Post....but thank you,for leading the way....I will post it this week! Ina, http://glutenfreedelightfullydelicious.com

 
At 7:41 AM, Blogger Steph said...

I've been interested in The Butcher and the Vegetarian since first hearing about it.
I've always eaten meat, primarily the mass-produced type that graces supermarket coolers.
Only recently have I started to feel guilty about that.
While I'd love to solely rely on locally raised, pastured, humanely slaughtered meat from farmers markets, the convenience and lower cost of supermarket meat is a hard siren song to ignore.
I suppose I am on a journey to divorce guilty feelings from food, and this is just one more conundrum to figure out.

Love your blog.

 
At 7:41 AM, Blogger Sarah B said...

I was vegan for years before my celiac symptoms kicked into high gear in my late teens. At that point, I would try ANYTHING to feel human, even – as unsavory as it seemed at the time – eat animal products. Since celiac was my real issue, dropping my vegan diet only helped a little, but it did help. It's not really surprising when I realize that at the time I was practically living on sprouted whole 12 grain bread, brown bread, and breadsticks in those days. Now I look at things differently. It's all part of my path to good health.

 
At 7:45 AM, OpenID simplesavvy said...

In addition to being a class issue, this is also a health issue -- and not in the way of fat, thin, and in-betweenies that we often think of.

I can't go vegetarian because my body reacts negatively to almost all types of vegetarian protein. I'm left with eggs and quinoa, and the occasional bit of cheese (occasional meaning once a week or less). And by "negatively," I mean I get migraines or glutened -- without fail -- whenever I eat something made with beans, for example, or seitan.

There are a lot of issues we can discuss but don't when we're talking about vegetarianism. Lately, I've been seeing some excellent posts on the topic around the blogosphere. And I love the idea of talking about supporting local businesses, even if they don't use grass-fed, local and organic meat in their meals. That's important too, and often ignored.

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Sirena said...

Ah! this is a discussion we have long been having in our own home.
I come from such a food-centric family, with an omnivore chef sister, and two vegan family members. Another key family member lives out of the country, where meat is by default local, organic, and more muscular and outdoorsy than our local, suburban Maryland fare.
When we lived in the city, near a top notch farmer's market, we too chose to eat meat less frequently so that our meat might be of higher caliber. We would choose local, organic chicken from local farmers; local beef and buffalo; local eggs and milk. Living in the burbs, we still try to make *conscious* choices. Meat of all sorts is organic and local, if possible - Mt. Airy, MD lamb over others, etc... - but you know what, most of all, I try not to be sanctimonious or holier than thou. the recent Snowmaggedon snowstorm left my mother in law with plenty of frozen chicken to distribute after a power outage - could you refuse good, honest food, because it didn't meet your criteria? We didn't. We never will. Food is a luxury, sometimes. Food is also a necessity. I live by Michael Pollan's motto, and I love it: Eat food. Mostly Plants. Not too much. I love the idea that, like the hunter foragers gatherers of our past, meat is a luxury to supplement our diets, our bodies, our brains, not a daily requirement. It makes it more beautiful, and we enjoy it more that way. Honey, no one ever died from eating too much salad and oatmeal.

 
At 8:05 AM, Blogger Elizabeth A. said...

I don't eat meat or fish anymore for ethical and environmental reasons, mostly. For years though I ate it "opportunistically", a few times a year, when someone else would prepare it (there was a time when I wouldn't refuse a meal prepared with love - now I know there's no taking factory farmed meat or selfishly fished fish and transforming it with love). Anyway, I am in a position to be smug because I enjoy optimal health on a mostly vegan diet. Others are not so lucky. That said, there are hidden costs to the "cheap meat" from factory farms and "cheap dairy" from confinement operations, and I think it behooves all of us, whatever our economic circumstances, to find ways to avoid their consumption. Meat and fish should be prohibitively expensive, so that we eat them in limited quantities. Real dairy products are more accessible, but for the majority, some reprogramming is required to fork over the extra couple dollars a gallon for yogurt, milk, cheese, and butter, from pastured animals. I encourage everyone to save money in the carb category by buying dried legumes, etc., and making all your carbs from scratch so you can afford real dairy (if you really and truly think you need it to be healthy). Eggs too. You can get pastured eggs for $6 a dozen, twice as much as conventional eggs, but still only $1.50 an omelet (assuming three eggs going in). If the cheaper option didn't exist, we wouldn't bat an eye.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger Leah said...

This book sounds like it was written about me! I was raised vegetarian and was even a vegan for a couple of years in college. However, I became involved in the small farmer movement when I lived in the Midwest for graduate school. I helped a friend kill and process a couple of hundred chickens and decided that if I could come to terms with ending an animal's life, I could eat them too.

Since then, I've been a committed omnivore, always aware of my food choices, and always happy to eat real foods that nourish my body.

I believe religiously that our bodies are so different that some people can thrive on a vegan diet, but some people have more energy and vitality when they eat meat. I've learned that I'm in the latter category.

I'd never condemn a vegan for their diet, and I'd *hope* they'd never condemn mine.

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger Julialuli said...

If "The Butcher & the Vegetarian" was available on my Kindle, I'd buy it this instant. But I am definitely going to read it.

Our son was diagnosed with Crohn's disease last year when he was 12. I spent the first half of the year reading and researching how we could treat this disease without using the caustic drugs that are traditionally used to reduce inflammation.

Most of the books addressed the vegetarian or vegan lifestlye. We bought a juicer (now I see we can use it for green sauces!), tried to get more veggies into him, etc. In the end, I haven't given up, but my son like meat and he absolutely needs the meds to be healthy and they have turned his life around.

I've gone back and forth on the vegetarian lifestlye and find that I need animal protein, yet, so much research shows that the veg lifestlye is healthier. I do believe are what we eat, which is why I'm so careful about our buying choices (local, if at all possible).

So I'm intrigued about this book and I can't wait to read what Tea has to say about it!

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger Therese said...

I was actually just looking at that book the other day! What a coincidence!

I am a vegetarian and have been for about four years now. My choices stemmed from my love of animals, my naturally high cholesterol and I was just generally tired of meat. I had also started to actually take a good, hard look at what I was actually ingesting in my body and found that there was no place for meat. I couldn't afford organic and didn't drive so couldn't get to a reliable butcher and I don't trust meat from the grocery store.

My thoughts are that it doesn't matter what you eat as long as you are aware of what it is you are eating and how it got to you. Just be aware and make the choices that are best for you.

My boyfriend is a meat-eater although he's a typical man and will eat anything I put in front of him, including green smoothies! But he buys meat on occasion and I even grab him chicken if I'm out at the grocery store. My parents also shower him with steak when we visit so he's never deprived!

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger Ada said...

Oh, this is such a personal topic!

I was vegetarian for a year, and I started mostly so I could prove to myself I could do it, and I stopped because I was in Turkey and the meatballs looked and smelled delicious. Not the best logic, I know, but at the time I still lived at home and my parents bought pretty much exclusively organic, grass-fed, hormone-free, etc. meat.

Since then, I've moved out and I have to stick to a tighter budget for two people. I can't afford organic eggs and milk, but my eggs are free range and I'm so lucky to have found a butcher in the neighbourhood who offers only organic, local, grass-fed, hormone-free meat. When I think about the cost, it's horrifying -- the chicken we get is easily triple the cost of a grocery store chicken. However, I really just can't bring myself to eat conventional meat when I know that's what it is, so I just eat less meat overall and have the good stuff when I do.

In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with wanting to eat meat; we evolved as a species because our stoneage ancestors hunted for meat. However, my main problem is with how the animals we eat today are raised, so I try to balance cost with ethics when making menu choices. If you can't tell, this is a topic that really interests me!

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger emily said...

The topic of eating meat responsibly is something I've been pondering in more intensely in the last six months. I try to buy local, and the first transition has been with dairy - eggs and milk especially. As I can, I indulge in more expensive but tastier meat. I definitely agree with you - there's not one answer for all.

 
At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Cookie said...

I was a vegetarian for fifteen years and then decided one day I wanted to try meat again. I started with chicken and then eventually, within a few weeks, had a hamburger, then a few weeks later, a steak. I love eating meat again. I buy only organic meats.

My body feels better eating meat. I didn't even know I missed it until I had it again. Now I include it in my diet daily. I am a conscious eater. I eat what makes my body feel good and healthy. What I realized, after all those years of no meat, is that my body really enjoys it and needs it. I feel more grounded and much calmer with it in my diet.

It's such a personal choice for all of us. I listen to my body's needs and respond without judgment. I am eating gluten free, not because I HAVE to, but because I felt my body was tired of the gluten. I feel much better eating this way. I have more mental clarity and more energy all day long without the slumps.

So, gluten free and meat are choices I've made because I feel it's best for me. If it makes me feel better, I'll do it.

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger katiebee said...

This conversation is very heated in some of my social circles. I grew up in a cattle ranching family (going on 135 years of ranching), so eating meat was just a means of nourishment. There was no discussion at our table about this ever - we ate what was made, knowing that everything from the meat to the vegetables were harvested just outside our door.

As I grew older, I began to see a benefit in lowering my consumption of all types of animal protein. I felt better physically because of it; honestly, it was never a moral dilemma. Once a week (minimum), we enjoy a non-meat meal. My family has yet to complain. I think they actually look forward to it.

We just built a coop and are raising chickens for eggs. I like the sustainability of it - I know where my eggs are coming from. I know their diet because I provide it. Will I still eat chicken, since I am nurturing this flock to provide for my family? Quite probably. But that's a decision left to me on a day to day basis.

I respect everyone's right to decide how to nourish themselves and their families. Nourishment comes not just from what you eat, but by how you feel about it as well. If your soul is better nourished without animal products, then that is the path you need to take. I don't believe there is a moral decision related to it - it's a personal decision of how to feed your body and soul, plain and simple.

I've read a number of reviews on the book and am looking forward to reading it and discussing with friends.

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Castal said...

I am in an interesting household--
Me: The recovering carnivore, and
My best friend: a recovering vegetarian.
(And ye olde husband who just eats food as long as it won't eat him first)

Growing up, dinner for me consisted of meat, potatoes, and maybe some canned veggie (or if we were REALLY lucky, something from the garden). We were pretty darn poor (not starving, but definitely on the edge of keeping the bills paid and heat on some months) and anything that was outside that norm was a threat to the system.

Having said that, fast forward to my house in present day where we are living comfortably.In our house we eat a lot of vegetarian meals just because it was what we have on hand that day. My friend's body (and mine) occasionally really need meats to be happy, so we do eat meat, eggs and dairy. We also are on what I like to call a medium budget--enough to splurge on some things like a CSA box a week, but not enough to splurge on other things like the $15 chicken. I still occasionally buy meat from the store, especially chicken, because most of the free range birds are way out of my budget (and trucked in from the east cost in most cases here). When we do eat meat it is normally as a small part of the meal instead of the main course as what I a was raised with. (There are still some times when I crave MEAT and will have a chunk o'meat for dinner... my housemate cringes when I do this).

One way that we supplement our freezer is by seeking out our local farmers--in this case a local lamb/sheep farmer with awesome animal practices (and no antibiotics etc.) It is affordable because we go out and butcher it ourselves. Also, every year my family gets a deer and that also gets butchered and put into the freezer.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that I am eating far more vegetarian than ever before and my housemate is learning how to cook and love meat. We both are trying to do it in the most ethical way possible, given our means.

Great discussion by the way!

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

My husband and I really need to read this book! We are in our first year of marriage and really working on this dynamic in our home. He was raised with a huge garden and has been vegetarian for over 5 years, making an easy transition in college. I was raised on a "meat and potatoes" diet with a side of veggies and have made a long, slow, struggling transition into vegetarianism. As it is, I haven't had meat in about a month.

I was quietly considering cutting myself off and becoming vegetarian. At the same time, my husband was quietly considering starting to eat chicken and fish again. Since we don't have the money to buy really good, ethically raised meat, he still doesn't eat it and I only eat it when we go out (read: when people take us out to dinner).

But we are still in limbo. We want to do whatever will help us feel healthier, but without money for a nutritionist it's hard to decide what to do. I was sick for so many years until an ND helped me change many things. Now we are in California where medical insurance doesn't pay for natural doctors, and we are having to learn things for ourselves.

Whether or not to eat meat has become a big question mark in our household. We are biding our time by buying as much of our entire diet as we can from local produce farmers, but we're stuck in a "where do we go from here" moment. I think it's time for us to invite Tara to become a part of our conversation and see what new insights this lovely-looking book can bring to our lives.

 
At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Lauren said...

This book is really appealing and seems to be incredibly interesting. I was a vegetarian for ten years, as well. I stopped eating meat in the fifth grade. The main factors in my decision was that my mom was a vegetarian and that I was uncomfortable with how I felt about myself. Looking back, eating or not eating meat did not change my self perception...another story for another day.

About ten years later, I visited the doctor with multiple symptoms. He thought that I may have lyme disease, but was not one hundred percent sure. He did suggest, however, that I begin eating meat. He though that I may not have been receiving a sufficient amount of nutrients with the current eating style that I had chosen at the time. Just like that, ten years seemed to disappear in a span of ten minutes. Although this may seem odd, I felt as though my self identity had been washed away. If there was no other characteristic that made me stand out in a group of my peers, it was my vegetarianism. Now, it was gone, washed away like a sandcastle.

I have now been eating meat for several years. I have also been diagnosed with a couple of gastrointestinal conditions, including Celiac Disease. I have the medical history of someone three times my age, however, I am only twenty-five years old.

I cannot say if eating meat has helped or hindered my health. I can say that it has given me more options during meals. I think that this book would be the perfect compass to help me consider my decisions in at least a more thoughtful direction.

 
At 11:10 AM, Anonymous TLZ said...

What an intreguing topic for a book. I applaud Tara for pursuing knowledge and information 1st hand. I don't doubt this is a worthwhile read.
The decision between vegetarian and carnivore is not an easy one as there are so many factors that impact the desicion (health, environment, taste, ethics, religion). I have heard many stories about journies from carnivore to vegetarian but never the other way around. I plan to put this book on my list of "must reads".

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Kim said...

I really appreciate this article, especially as a law student. I am often plagued with issues regarding food cost -- mostly because I am in a constant state of being strapped for cash, but have a moral and ethical dilema with meat purchasing. I like that you brought up how this is a class issue, because I think that is the crux of this issue. I consider myself fortunate to be able to wonder where my food comes from because I don't have to worry about whether I will have food or not.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Living with a child diagnosed with CD has led my family on a very interesting and good adventure in food this past year. We love doing research and eating better from all the food groups, but are especially partial to vegetables and legumes.

I can't wait to read more!!!

 
At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

I am really curious about this book. Thank you for having a giveaway :)

I too struggle with meat - I had to give up dairy in addition to gluten, and for other health reasons am very restricted in the types of meat I can eat (it's basically just chicken breast and lean red meat for me) - I used to buy either direct-from-a-farmer or organic-sold-at-the-grocery-store meats, and found a marked difference in flavor - so now I only buy the former, but as a result, because it is expensive, I buy a lot less of it. And then I get on kicks of thinking, if I am eating meat only once or twice a month, do I really need it? So basically, I am pretty conflicted, which is funny considering pre-food-intolerances and illness, I thought nothing of eating meat 3-5 times a week.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Dawn (KitchenTravels) said...

I enjoy meat, so I don't know that I'll ever become a vegetarian. At the same time, I desire to eat humanely-raised, healthy animals and also to buy local. We achieve both these goals a fair amount of the time, but it's tough. We have three kids and we live in one of the most expensive states in the country (CA). Eating organic, local, "responsible" food 100% of the time is, sadly, out of our reach for now.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Melissa said...

I've been struggling with this very thing since I met my partner. He's a vegetarian and I'm not. We have agreed to keep our house vegetarian but that I will continue to eat meat when I'm out. For a long time, this was enough. But, since the topic of raising children has begun to pop up quite often, we're both struggling with how to maintain this balance without feeling like we're forcing personal life choices on the other. What fun!

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous abbie said...

There are times when I feel we are so separated from our foods. Grocery stores make us think veggies grow in plastic bags, in little cartons, are shrink wrapped, or are ripe in the dead of winter.
On a whim, learning to cook Korean fish stew, I decided to prepare the sea-food from whole animals. I had seen on the Food Network how to de-beak the squid, and take out that weird cartilage thing. I had seen how to scale the fish, gut it, clip its fins, and chop off the head...which goes into the pot for flavor. It was my first experience getting close to the once-living food I was preparing to consume. It was gross. It was squishy, and it made me feel a little ill. After looking in the eye of that fish, I didn't eat the soup that night, though others said it tasted supreme.
We buy beef, and now pork, from a local farmer. We pick it up in plastic packages frozen at the slaughter house. I don't think that they process animals on pick-up days. We haven't been to the farm to see the animals they raise there. I think that would make me feel a little queasy looking into their moist eyes knowing what their fates entail. Isn't it easier looking at your food behind a plastic veil of denial?
But we eat meat. And after I read your post, I thought, is this hypocritical when I feel weak just thinking of where it comes from?
I was a vegetarian in high school and college. (From reading Upton Sinclare's book The Jungle.) And now I eat meat and feed it to my family. We don't think about its origins. Is this bad? Will the book shed some light on this plight? :) I can't wait to take a peek.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Monica's cafe said...

A haiku for Lu:

Where does food come from?
Thoughtful shopping: food for thought
Think about your food

....

I love that sustainable farming, thoughtful shopping, responsible eating, and eating local, sustainable foods are all a part of my food chain. It is so important to think about where our foods come from, and to make the effort to play our very best roles when it comes to these things. And then the more we know, the less effort we have to put into thinking about it, the more naturally it comes and the healthier we are. We can't even help it, the outcome is fantastic!

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Rosie said...

I was vegetarian for almost ten years, when, like Tea, I was finally told by my doctors that I needed to try eating meat.
My best friend is vegan, and we love to cook together. We often have long discussions about eating "good" food, and what that even means. I am always interested to hear about other people's expereinces with vegetarianism and meat-eating.

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I think you are so very spot on with the idea of conversation. Eating or not eating meat has seemed to enter this giant realm of questioning ones entire being. Before you either did or did not. Now there is usually the question of WHY put forth to either answer. It seems if you don't have a good reason that neither is acceptable.

I grew up in fairly rural areas and my father roped for fun/competition. One steer was usually kept to just graze and be free and fat until the end of the year. We would kill him or send him to the small local slaughter and cut up the meat and share it with another family. My dad would also hunt and usually bring home something for us to fill the freezer with. I raised chickens and turkeys and we ate those as well. I tended to these animals and loved them dearly, but I always knew that these were the same animals on my plate. Something in even my adolescent mind told me that this was a symbiotic relationship and it was ok.

After my parents divorced and moved to the city I found I didn't really like meat. It tasted funny. I stopped eating meat because it just no longer seemed right and the meat we had tasted icky. It was proof to me, that perhaps without this relationship it should be taboo.

I didn't eat meat for nearly 10 years and then when I was pregnant with my first child I craved meat. I dreamed about cutting and chewing steak. I knew my body needed something it wasn't getting. I gave in and ate meat.

Now I still eat meat and try very hard to buy the best we can afford. This usually means no meat for a couple weeks, or I concede and buy what is on sale at the regular market and say "Lord bless it".

I miss that relationship with animals and outdoors. I miss knowing that what I was eating was loved and that it was nourishing me the same way. I often think about becoming completely vegetarian again. I just can't afford that luxury of relationship that I miss so much.

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

For the last ten years I've been an on-again-off-again vegetarian. My convictions changed over the years (started as an ignorant way to lose weight, morphed into an ethics issue and then cows were just too cute to eat), but I was always convinced it was the healthiest way to eat. Unfortunately, my health deteriorated over the years. The switch to GF drastically improved things, but I was still sick all the time (how many times can you get influenza in a month?). After lots of research and soul searching, I started this year as meat eater (in moderation) and now I feel better than ever. Here's to good health!

 
At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Summer said...

I have been vegetarian almost my entire life, although I have tried my share of the carniverous life. This is how my body is happy.

My husband on the other hand gets twitchy if he doesn't eat meat on a regular basis. I would love to compromise by buying organic, hormone-free meat, but it just isn't in our budget, so I try to limit how much we buy and try to buy some good meat from the market once in a while. It really grosses me out to cook for him sometimes, but I do it because I love him. There are places I draw a line though--I have never cooked an entire whole turkey or chicken. Just can't do it.

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger suz said...

It's great that folks are having these conversations. That we're beginning to think more holistically about how what we eat effects not just our politics, but our environment. And it's good that there are so many more choices out there.

It really is a class issue in a lot of ways and until we address that in a more holistic manner I think it will be hard to have these sorts of conversations on a national level.

For me it's come down to trying my hardest to eat with an eye towards the environment. I don't always make it, but I try to. And the cost of this has helped me learn other things along the way - how to make stock to use up every bit of that $16 chicken, how to cook and enjoy beans and other ingredients used in less meat-oriented cultures, and how to really enjoy the taste of whatever it is that I'm eating.

Again, I'm not perfect, but I'm working towards being a little better every day. It's a process and I think we'd all do well to remember that everyone is going through their own process and working things out the best they can.

 
At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Neva said...

Thanks so much for your introduction to Tara's book. It is a book I will be looking for.

As self sustained farmers we always grew and ate out own meat. It was wonderful as we always knew what we were eating. Now due to a needed change of livestyle as a result of illnes and disability we have to buy meat over the counter. I try to buy local raised from the small butcher shops, but cost can be a factor because of a very limited budget. But I am able to buy free range chicken eggs which are wonderful.

I am gluten free, trying to cut down on dairy and processed foods of all types.

Thanks Shauna for sharing, many aspects that I will be giving more thought to.

 
At 2:49 PM, Blogger Nimble said...

This is a subject that keeps cropping up, I find, whatever one's current position on meat-eating is. I envy those wealthy enough to insist on humanely farmed meat. I hope we meat-eaters will all be able to move in that direction in the coming years. It would be interesting to read about Tea's journey with this.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Courtney Walsh said...

I have just found your blog, though in all my time at the bookstore I've seen your book! (I will have to pick it up.) My son has a wheat/gluten/yeast/milk allergy and just last week I found out I will be needing a gluten free diet. I admit, I am overwhelmed even though I've been serving up his gluten freen foods for a year and a half. I'm also a little bit sad to think of the things I won't have anymore...

But meat? Meat is one thing I CAN eat...and while I am ALL for local meat, organically fed, antibiotic free meat, I get the occasional meat from the grocery as well. I've considered giving it up, but now that I'm going gluten free (and dairy free) I'm sort of hanging onto the meat because it won't make me sick!!

I am interested in this book!! Will definitely check it out! :)

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger Annie Speicher said...

The more my body gets used to eating organic meats, the more sick I become when I eat meat that is loaded with chemicals. Luckily, I have found a great meat CSA so I can better afford to take care of myself. I can't help but wonder how different our system would be if more people were as sensitive to non-organic meats as I am?

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger Pickles said...

I recently read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not only well-written, but you can easily put yourself in Tea's shoes. As a long-time vegetarian, I too have been contemplating meat for the last year or two due to many health issues. I saw myself in Tea and many points that come up can be so thought provoking, and life changing. If you've been thinking about picking it up, do it; you'll enjoy it.

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

I don't really have anything bad to say about eating meat. I think that we should know where all of our food comes from - including our meat. I do get a tad squeamish when cutting up chicken breasts or steaks, but that doesn't mean I would tell anyone to not eat meat.

However, the real reason I don't eat much meat myself is that the texture doesn't always appeal to me and for the most part, meat doesn't really agree with my system. C'est la vie :).

 
At 4:23 PM, Blogger Cindy said...

Wow. I am really looking forward to reading this. My almost 4-year hold has started making pronouncements like, "We don't eat meat." "It's not nice to kill animals." "Why do some people eat..." "Why don't we eat at Mc___?" There's nothing like having a little one questioning the world and your parental values/choices, to make you want to open up, look at things differently, clarify one's values and positions, even the position is no position, and be prepared to have ongoing and ever more complex conversations about food. I'm excited to read this and see what this decade+ vegetarian who craves turkey now and then can learn and add to the discussion. Thanks!

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger Franny said...

I've been a sort-of, kind-of ethical vegetarian for the past 12 years, sometimes eating fish and sometimes not, depending on a lot of factors (whether I have time to prepare protein rich meals on a regular basis, whether I am living/travelling in a place where I can find nutritious vegetarian meals). That said, my vegetarianism doesn't extend beyond my own body, though I am (usually) happy to explain my reasoning. I have no essential opposition to others consuming ethically produced meat. It's just not for me. At the same time, I can't make judgments on those who for time/financial reasons cannot afford to purchase ethically produced meat, but would like to eat meat to supplement their diet. YET, I feel like nutrition IS (or perhaps should be) about making conscious choices, which most of us should be thinking about and my fear is that often we don't (I know when I'm pressed for time, I certainly don't).

Reading your post and many of the other books on eating ethically (Pollan, Safran Foer etc.), I am curious about how Tea's book addresses these questions.

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Jennywenny said...

I must read this book, I was thinking how I had no interest in meat, however much I love tea and her writing, but you've reminded me, I love food, I love to learn about food and I really love it when my friends and family who do eat meat make good choices to eat food that came from a good place.

I was very happy to find another restaurant in san diego, anthology this weekend, that serves grass fed beef and everything was delicious too! We need more though!

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger sk said...

This book sounds great!
Vegetarianism is such a huge and important issue, I'll be interested to see how Tea approaches it. I was a vegetarian for 15 years, and just started eating some meat here and there back in October. My body just felt like it needed it, even though if you had asked me a year ago if I would EVER eat meat I would have said NO WAY! I am to the point where I am okay with eating humanely raised and butchered meat, but I still don't think I could kill an animal myself, which is the true test, in my book. I still feel hypocritical when I eat meat. I'm really striving to balance those feelings with the cravings of my body, because I want to honor my body and my health as well. We get so many different messages about health and food these days, it feels overwhelming to make these huge decisions about diet. Anyway, congratulations Tea for writing a book!

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger Mara Rose Gaulzetti said...

This book looks great and brings up some important ethical issues related to food.
I know it's best to eat naturally and locally, but it can be very cost prohibitive. That's why, in our home, we eat a lot less meat than my parents do. To eat in the manner I grew up eating (meaning meat or poultry at 6 out of 7 dinners) is not really possible with our budget.
So, we eat a lot less meat, and save the extravagant meat-fests to visits from our parents! I think overall it's made me a more creative cook and it makes those meaty meals all the more memorable and delicious.

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger Kinderhook said...

Two things confused me in this post:
1) are Tara and Tea the same person?

2) is the green juice made of the first 4 ingredients in the recipe only?

Thanks. I'm most interested in trying that as we have a good juicer that we rarely use it!

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger Marisa said...

Eating local meat, either hunted or from a farm, has been how I grew up my whole life. Only in college did I discover the horrors of meat companies. Meat should be expensive, because it shouldn't be our main meal component anyway, people would eat less of it, and people need to wake up to the realities of the meat industry.

 
At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,
First up thanks for posting up your fabulous recipes, it's wonderful finally being able to bake bread & other good things for my GF partner. I just want to comment on your 'meat as a class issue' comment. My dad was a local butcher who had a small farm, slaughtered his own animals and sold them in his little shop. Coles opened in our town with their (obviously cheaper) products, which they can afford to sell because the animals are factory farmed and don't take up any space grazing. These animals live in terribly cruel conditions. I don't know how much the people who run these farms make, but coles make a lot. None of the local butchers in town could compete, and out of more than 10 there are only 2 left. We grew up very poor with my dad out of work. So this works both ways. Sure we can say that those who are impoverished can't afford to eat a lot of meat unless they buy from a factory farm. But I think we all can afford to support our local communities. And by doing that we create jobs in our local communities. And we build stronger, more supportive communities. And our wealth stays in our community. Not just our money, but our relationships, our care for each other. I became vegetarian in a large part because my dad, the butcher, taught me not to be cruel. Things have changed now, and it's possible to buy meat from animals who've been allowed to graze and felt some sunshine. But I don't think it's ok for us to be cruel so we can have something cheaper, more often. And I fervently believe that eating a little less meat, bought from some-one in our community is a much healthier option not just for us, but for our whole community.

 
At 6:39 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I eat meat to keep my iron up and to make it socially easier. Otherwise I am quite content with vegetarian fare. The health implications of eating as much meat as I see my friends eating concerns me.

 
At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every day as dinner hour approaches, I start to feel anxious wondering how I will feed my vegetarian self and what I will make my meat-loving husband whose motto in life is, "If it doesn't have meat in it, it isn't a meal." Combine that quandry with two small children who one day love steak and the next day can't stand meat of any kind, and you've got yourself trouble! What's a working mom who just wants to feed her family well to do?

 
At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The meat conversation always seems to be more personal to those who eat meat than those who don't.

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Erika said...

My husband and I have been largely vegetarian for more than 15 years. The complicated politics of all foods keep what we eat and why we eat it at the front of our thoughts these days. We're now also choosing foods and cooking for our glorious 1 year old. Given some other restrictions in our diets (GF for one), sometimes meat is a healthful choice. We think a lot about how we'll talk with her about foods in another year, or the year after that, and on down the road. What is healthy for a body, the grower, the economy, the planet?

No simple choices anymore, and it is a position of vast privilege even to be able to pause to consider these issues.

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger Mr. Jackhonky said...

Ah serendipity. I was just reading The Butcher and the Vegetarian last night - and was pleased to see your and The Chef making cameo appearances in it!

On top of that, I just blogged about Prather's Ranch, which was the chapter I just finished reading in the book. Yay Prather's Ranch!

I think most people have already commented on the things I would bring up- as what people eat is a huge personal issue, and people (whether it's my vegetarian/vegan friends of my omni friends) get quite riled up about it.

One thing that I didn't see people bring up here, is that though I understand how eating free-range and organic can be construed as a class issue, people who CAN vote with their dollars should - as the more demand there is for humanely raised, organically grown meat, the more the prices will come down, making it more affordable for everyone.

On top of that, what people need to understand, and granted it's difficult for them to grasp, is that it may seem cheap to eat factory meat, but there's a cost in terms of health in the long run. You may be buying cheap meat now, but the money you will have to spend in the long run from the toxins that build up in your system FAR out weighs the money you will save.

Sadly, this is abstract, and difficult to explain to someone who is working the swing shift at BIG BOX STORE, making minimum wage...but I can only hope the conversation gets started about it.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Pat said...

This book sounds like one I'd be interested in reading. I have been a vegetarian for years, however, gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian offerings in restaurants are not plentiful. So I now eat fish or chicken when I go out. I've been thinking of preparing a couple of chicken dishes I could serve to guests. But I've stayed away from red meat and am not sure I'd want to cook it.

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

I am intrigued by the title of this book and feel that it would be a wonderful read for both my husband and I. He is a lifelong ovo lacto vegetarian (he occasionally eats fish/seafood). While I was raised eating meat, my preference is for small amounts of locally produced poultry and sustainably harvested fish. The complication to this is that I am allergic to wheat, eggs, milk, and shellfish. So mealtimes can be a real juggling act at our house. Reading others experiences and perspectives helps me live my best life and honor other lives as well.

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger Lonely Foodie said...

I've been a vegetarian for about 5 years, and as a dietetics major for the last 3 I've been waffling back and forth on all these issues myself. Living with a few self-righteous vegetarians who don't know how to actually nourish themselves (lots of taco bell and mac 'n' cheese) has left me feeling that making declarative statements and leaving it at that is not enough. I want to be able to educate and guide people in their decisions to feed their bodies the nutrients that they need for optimal health. If that includes meat (and for many it will) I need to be open-minded enough to meet them where they are and I also need to have the resources so that they can make educated, informed decisions in the future.

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Dana said...

I was thinking hard about becoming a vegetarian right before I got my allergy diagnosis (three-ish years ago; gluten, eggs, and dairy) and decided it would be too difficult, at least for the time being. My reasons mainly had to do with the treatment of animals in mainstream production and the fact that I can't afford the ethically/sustainably farmed meat at all (two full-time PhD students here...). So I caved in to necessity but it still bothers me to buy the grocery store meat.

I am also an Eastern Orthodox Christian, and we abstain from animal products during our fasting periods, which if you observe them all can add up to nearly half the days of the year. So I am actually a sort of half-time gluten-free vegan for a combination of religious and dietary reasons, and the other half the time I suppress my misgivings about the source and eat "ordinary" meat. I'm not sure what the better solution is for me at this time of my life, but I'm very interested in the conversation and the book.

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Kelsey said...

I've technically already read the book, but would love to own a copy. I missed Tara's book reading here in Seattle, but have been following her blog for a while and absolutely LOVED her writing.

I grew up on a wheat and barley farm in Montana, where practically all of the meat my family ate was bought from our neighboring ranchers. Now, a graduate student living in Seattle, I tend to transfer that same meat from my parents' home to my own freezer here, in addition to the venison I gain from my yearly hunts.

I try not to buy meat in the grocery (fiscally, it's almost impossible anyway!), but when I do feel the need for anything outside the range of beef or venison, I'm definitely more careful about where I get it from and how my purchase is affecting the industry. Growing up, this wasn't a subject that was ever really broached - or needed - so it has been real eye-opening to learn more through Tara and the different sources I have learned about through her.

Thanks for the post!

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Tara's book is on my to-read list. I've been enjoying Tea and Cookies for quite some time now. I've felt inspired and I've found some wonderful recipes. It's a great space. I am not a vegetarian, but I do find myself eating less and less meat. Although I consider myself fairly well-informed about the food I buy and eat, I haven't made any big decision to eliminate meat. It's just less appealing than it once was to me. I'm looking forward to reading The Butcher and the Vegetarian.

 
At 5:24 PM, Blogger SarahS said...

I love the sound of this book and will definitely be reading it. A few years ago my naturopath wanted me and my children to go completely vegan. He said the kids would stop getting colds and my fatigue symptoms would disappear very quickly. Being an avid reader on many subjects, healthy eating included, I knew there were opposite opinions-- naturopaths who had studied extensively and claimed a diet including meat is healthiest. I think that it is different for different people actually. An example: I can thrive on a high- protein low-carb diet, while my Mom feels ill and falls asleep halfway through the day if she tries to eat low-carb. I also know eating meat doesn't make me feel yuck at all, if it did I wouldn't eat it.

After watching a video of cows being trucked to a slaughter house and seeing the horrific treatment of the animals and the knowledge they will butcher and sell the meat from very sick animals I find it impossible to buy grocery store beef. Fortunately for us my grandpa will raise a few calves at a time and the family will buy the meat from him. It works great, I know the cows are happy and well treated (I can go visit them) and it doesn't cost me my firstborn child to buy a little meat.

We raise our own chickens for eggs and plan on raising a few turkeys this year as well.

If I didn't have access to affordable "safe" meat we would eat very little if any because we have a hard enough time sticking to our grocery budget as it is. I really love my veggies and beans and rice but I like meat too and am glad I can get it sometimes :)

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I appreciate the way you wrote about the issue of to eat meat or not to eat meat. It was perfect.

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

I eat "good meat." It's all I can bear to purchase, all I would ever want to cook with, and all I would feel good putting into my body. I eat at restaurants that feel the same way, and if they don't, then I go vegetarian or get seafood (sustainable options). I know this may not be possible for everyone, but I feel like supporting what I believe in now will make it more available for others in the future.

 
At 10:51 AM, Anonymous keri said...

i struggle with this issue as well. i was raised vegetarian. not for any ethical reasons, it turns out. but because my mom didn't know how or care to cook. so the foods she was able to prepare were vegetarian in nature; spaghetti with olive oil or butter, grilled cheese, pizza...that type of thing. to this day i have never had a hamburger from a fast food joint (or anywhere for that matter) nor have i had steak or any other beef. i have tried chicken (meh), pork (good in some forms) and i don't care for turkey. interestingly, i find that carbs are an issue for me as an adult. i try and select whole grains, of cource, but once i eat that slice of bread, i want another, and so on. my husband and i support our local farmers whenever possible and we do eat fish, cheese and eggs. in my head, i have it worked out that if i couldn't kill it, i shouldn't eat it. i don't know if that makes any sense, but it seems to be working (sort of) for now. though honestly, i love some well cooked bacon or some good prosciutto wrapped around a slice of melon. i am very interested in your friend's book. this is one topic that i wrestle with regularly. and i think you danced the dance very well. your blog is beautiful.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Brit said...

I tried vegetarianism. I really did. In high school, I was a vegetarian for a week. I couldn't handle the constant chastising from my family (well, certain members) that I gave in and went back to eating meat. I don't eat much meat now, but now that I'm older I don't know if was ever the right decision for me. For right now, I don't mind the ignorance of where the meat I'm eating comes from, and it's a terrible thing.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger Guia, etc. said...

I go on a high protein, no carb diet to jump start my diet. I find this to be the most successful for me. So I eat meat. I then complement with fruits, vegetables. I buy 1/4 of beef (or other protein) at a time from a local farmer, but also buy from local groceries. I buy vegetables > fruits (hard to grow a variety of locally grown fruits in Iowa) from the farmers market, but also purchase from local groceries. I support both sources for variety.

I have seen pigs, chicken being butchered, live fish being killed by our help growing up, and I consider that as part of the process of securing our source of protein, our food. We always pray before meals, so we acknowledge the source of our sustenance and offer our gratitude.

I prefer organic, fresh from the source but buy what is available from our local groceries. I use canned/dried ingredients for Asian dishes I make bec. that is the only way I can get them. I cook all meals we eat (breakfast/dinner during the week, all weekend meals), we eat out only during bdays or when we are out of town so I sort of have a big influence on how our family eats.
We are regular exercisers, the girls dance and are active so I can fairly say we are a healthy, lean family. I don't think we can be vegetarians bec. we enjoy protein (beef, pork, poultry, seafood). But we have a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables in our diet, miniscule processed food.

 
At 8:08 PM, Blogger Julia said...

hm..
the butcher and the vegetarian seems like a truly unique book.

many people avoid meat for its cholestrol, fat, etc, but truthfully, who doesn't drool when they see a nice piece of steak?

i think meat is a really important source of protein and iron. as a christian, i think God made animals so we can eat SPARINGLY

and i hate how people use hormones and stuff like that now a days!!
it ruins the whole experience of eating meat.
more worries while choosing what meat to buy.

even fish is polluted!! really!
what a polluted world.

but i still believe meat, fish, poultry is all needed. to some extent.

and vegetables are definately a food we need. just eating meat without the veggies makes you feel icky and uncomfortable.
with a side of salad or just stir fried all together, a nice combo is made and the flavors blend nicely

i especially LOVE TOMATOES
soup, juice, anything!

eat broadly is my opinion. :D
(this is coming from someone that lost lots of weight... :))

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger kendra said...

i was also a vegetarian for ten years, and then started having health issues. i still question meat-eating in my life - sources, eating out, and acceptance. your book was a great start for me on that road, and i'm looking forward to reading this.

 
At 8:29 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

I'm in the middle of the book right now, loving it. She draws you in. And I can relate on several levels. (I would be lost in a butcher shop, and I am a meat eater)

Thanks for sharing Shauna!

 
At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Brandy said...

Very interesting topic, and I am excited to check out Tea's book.

I would probably be considered one of those "sanctimonious" types who will only eat meat from local, humanely treated animals.

But, I DO see what you mean about it being a class issue.

We live on a single (firefighter) income, and have 3 kids, so we are clearly not upper class. lol We make HUGE sacrifices in other areas of our finances, in order to pay for the convictions we have about our food. We buy our meat in bulk from the local farmer (so, our chuck roasts and filet mignons are the same price/lb. as our ground beef or beef tips).

During the times we can't afford meat, we eat more eggs/beans/other proteins sources.

I think this book will be a great read...I enjoy hearing how others have worked through the struggle of how to balance their ethics/morals and their health, when the two seem to be opposed to one another.

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger Tiara said...

Can't wait to read this book! My family went vegan in my teens, I was vegan for over 8 years. They gained improved health, I gained 100 lbs, several autoimmune diseases and multiple food allergies that turned out to be fueled by gluten intolerance! My body just cannot handle being vegan. I was a well balanced one, it just was too grain and carbohydrate heavy.

So I stuck to dairy, chicken, and fish. It was a very painful decision for me. Then doctors and natural practitioners alike pushed me to try eating beef, as they felt it was the last ditch effort to give my body the iron it seems to be unable to draw from vegetables and supplements. Severe anemia is nothing to brush off lightly. I didn't believe them, most people get plenty of iron from other sources. But I'd been craving beef for months and it was either that, or yet another 8 hour IV infusion of iron. So, I gave in, convinced it wouldn't work, and started eating grassfed beef.

But it did work...and is working still, slowly, and that rocked my whole world. It'll take a long time for my body to rebuild its store of iron, but every blood test stays level or shows the level slowly but surely rising!

All that has taught me that intuitive eating is very important. In the end, we have to set aside our judgement and seek what our body needs for nourishment. The loss of an animal's life to sustain mine is heartbreaking. But I buy my meat and eggs from farms in the area since I thankfully live in a place with sustainable resources of them. And I give thanks for the cycle of life that sustains me so that I can sustain others.

My vegan family and friends judge me for it and are quite cruel over the whole thing. But they will never know what it feels like to live in my body, and my health issues. I truly believe there is no right way for everyone to eat. We are all different. I have whole food smoothies for breakfast from as much local produce as I can afford, and try to incorporate vegetarian meals into our weekly menus. But, meat is here to stay until my body says otherwise.

Thank you for posting about this book Shauna. Some may get angry with you, but anger comes from ignorance and failure to walk in someone else's shoes. Keep on doing what you do, there are enough of us out here capable of civil conversation! :-)

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger mrscamacho said...

Just coming back to say that I checked this book out at the library and whooped and laughed my way through the first couple chapters. I feel like she has perfectly captured my own experience as a recovering vegetarian! So fun. Thank you for the recommendation!

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Emily said...

I would just like to thank you for suggesting this book and thank your friend Tea for going through her journey to write it.
I attend a small private university about an hour outside of LA and was just part of a gardening seminar class which started a community garden on campus. We're not permanent, we're still battling with bugs and bunnies, weather and broken water lines but the point is: I've learned so much about my health and that of the earth's through this class.
We had to have an academic aspect to the class so we watched Food, Inc. and read "The Deep Economy" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma." On top of that I read part of Jane Goodall's "Harvest for Hope." They all speak of the deterioration of real food in the US food chain and what we as individuals can do about it.
This year has been a particularly abundant one for personal and dietary growth for me. I've taken gluten, dairy and soy out of my diet and also strive to eat responsible meat. That last one has actually been the hardest. A college budget, southern California prices and being a type1 diabetic with a dietitian insisting animal protein is essential to maintaining my blood sugar made it difficult to achieve this- fortunately I have found some ways to counter act this.
I found a local CSA and shared a box of fresh, delicious vegetables everyweek with 3 friends from the gardening class. I have discovered that Trader Joe's and Whole Foods do not carry GMO's so when I can I shop there. I try to support my local businesses over the corporate and I've decided to try as hard as I can to adhere to one of my dear friend's life mottoes: "I am not a vegetarian, I just want my meat to be." Wise words to live by.

I realize that I've rambled some but I wanted to say thank you for being such an influential blogger for the Celiac community as well as anyone who is even interested in food, and with that influence you have decided to support these precious and persnickety issues about food morality. This exact question which Tea writes about is what I have been battling with these past few months and I will most definitely go out and get this book.

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger skyethebard said...

I just added your blog to your reader a couple of weeks ago and find myself in foodie <3.

That said, my journey toward cleaner, more ethical eating (by my measure) has been a few years running. My financial circumstances in prior years allowed me to buy organic, humane, local foods for my family...but my partner of almost two decades did not agree that the cost was worth it and that was stressful. Our son, now 15, agrees that eating the best foods we can feels great but often makes jokes about "mom's food crazy" with his dad. I'm not sure what he'll decide for himself once he is out on his own.

Now, I am making a new home with my current partner but since we are both students, our budget is tight. We each have a child in the household about half of the time. It thrills me that my partner - an ex-fast food junkie - supports my food decisions for our family more and more as he learns more about where most of grocery store food comes from...but we are limited by budget.

Some of the solutions we have implemented in order to eat organic/humane/local on a $25k budget would not work for everyone but they make everything possible. In case anyone else with a tight budget is interested:

1. We have three roomies. It's a big house...and splitting all of the bills allows us to live on little for the time being. Plus, we like the live-in company/support :-)

2. To me, thrift stores used to be fun places to find unique items. Now, they are the primary source for our clothing and household items. Even as our budget increases, this will probably remain true because I like the sustainable aspect.

3. Homemade cleaners are cheap (and green!) and tp is just about the only disposable we'll never part with.

4. Netflix, Red Box, and the second-run $2 movie theater provide 99% of our media entertainment. I've been researching free and low-cost "community events" in an effort to get us off the couch more ;-)

5. It's hot in GA. Community pools are expensive. Joining a YMCA for the gym access, classes AND both the indoor and outdoor pools is one expense that seriously pays off.

6. We eat out once/week most of the time...twice if things get hairy. This includes ALL meals since neither of us works a 9-5 and we are with the kids as much as possible (mine is cyberschooled, his is 3yo).

7. Little convenience food is purchased. This has been true for me for over a decade, so I'm used to cooking from scratch most of the time...even when working and going to school.

8. Most of the beef we eat is ground, because it is cheaper. The 4 of us collectively consume 1 lb of it per week...and the local, grass-fed Angus costs $4/lb if it is purchased 5 lbs at a time. We had delicious, homemade Sloppy Joes as a comfort-food treat tonight and the whole meal cost about $8...including fries for them. They had buns, I had mine over a baked potato :-)

9. Much of our chicken is purchased whole. It's cheaper and the carcasses always go into the stock pot. Four meals (and a sammich or two) from two organic chickens makes things cost effective even at the higher per pound price.

We've planted IKEA bags of organic potatoes to further our adventure. Next year, we hope to grow more of our food. If successful, this will cut our food cost and our footprint.

We know we spend a higher proportion of our available funds on food than most families. To us, it's worth it. As others have said here...we each have to decide what's right for ourselves and our families. Nobody else can do that for us.

To those who read this far-->thank you and good luck!

 

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